Behringer U-Control UMA25S

A good looking but slightly flawed mini controller keyboard

This ultra-slim USB controller keyboard and audio interface packs in an awful lot.

You get 25 keys, mod/pitch wheels, eight knobs, a few buttons (including transport section), LED display, stereo RCA line-in and outs, expression and sustain pedal inputs, MIDI Out, mini-jack headphone and mic sockets (which 'mirror' the signals on the RCAs) and direct monitoring controls.

It can be powered by USB, batteries, or PSU (though one isn't supplied).

All of which is not bad considering the 18.1x8.7x1.8 inch footprint. Plus, the unit looks a million bucks, with a shiny red casing and a smart design.

To top it off, there's a carry case, strap (for keytar-style playing), headset and a decent software suite thrown in. But at 80 sheets, is it too good to be true?

In use

While initial impressions are good, the experience is soured by the Windows ASIO drivers for the audio interface element. They'll only install the device on the USB port the keyboard is plugged into during installation, and won't enable you to either change ports without reinstalling or use another audio interface on that port.

Though these deficiencies are detailed in the driver's ReadMe on the bundled CD-ROM, they're not mentioned in the installation procedure. In fact, the latest version of the driver on the Behringer website doesn't have any documentation at all!

We ended up using ASIO4ALL instead, and this seemed much more satisfactory. And on the Mac, it works perfectly well as a plug-and-play Core Audio device.

We also had a few problems with the hardware itself. The level knobs around the back are fiddly to get at, and the keys have little travel, which makes accurately inputting velocity levels tricky. More crucially, it's all too easy to distort the headphone out, even at low levels.

On the plus side, the RCA inputs work fine, and the eight MIDI knobs feel solid. The included peripherals are also genuinely useful.

Summary

Our feelings about the UMA25S are mixed. It certainly looks the business, is well built and fully-featured, but the headphone output and ASIO driver issues make the audio interface element less useful than it might have been.

We can't recommend the UMA25S unreservedly, but those after an extremely cheap all-in-one solution to meet their mobile music-making needs will find it offers good performance for the price, as long as they can live with the issues we've raised.

MusicRadar Rating

3.5 / 5 stars
Pros

Extremely affordable. Dazzling looks. Solid build. Decent RCA inputs. Handy software bundle. Carry bag, strap and headset included! 7/10

Cons

Ill-conceived ASIO drivers. Headphone output distorts easily. Keyboard action isn't amazing.

Verdict

The UMA25S is a workable audio and MIDI solution, though a few improvements would make it a stunner.

Available Inputs

Mic input

Available Outputs

L/R/Headphone MIDI out

Min Processor Speed (GHz)

1.4

OS Requirements

Apple Mac OS X 10.4 or later Microsoft Windows Vista Microsoft Windows XP

Platform

Mac or PC

Ram Required (MB)

512

Unit Power Source

Mains USB

Control/User Interface

Rotary Knobs

LCD Screen

Yes

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.

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